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Speeches
U.S. Fleet Forces Command (USFFC)

Adm. Daryl Caudle

WASHINGTON

Commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command

11 January 2023 REMARKS AS DELIVERED
 
  • Well, good morning everyone. Thank you for being here – more importantly, thanks to Rick, Dave, and Bill for inviting me to speak again!
  • To be honest, as a submariner, when I spoke here last year I wasn’t sure I’d make it through my remarks without at least a few surface launched torpedoes.
  • I was absolutely prepared to go ‘SINKER’ and bug out – but it seems that my finely honed southern charm and ‘just-right’ vertical stature, combined with this beautiful SWO Jacket – afforded me some maneuver space.
  • And how about a round of applause for the SNA team for truly knocking it out of the park once again by bringing together such a diverse group of senior leaders, warfighters, tacticians, planners, program managers, and industry partners.
  • This week alone you have the opportunity to hear directly from our partners on Capitol Hill, from SECNAV and CNO, from Commandant Berger and Commandant Fagan, from Vice Chief Franchetti and SWOBOSS, and countless others – all of whom are working together to solidify and advance our maritime overmatch, and all of whom have action items across all echelons for us to move out on – at pace – to seize the advantage.
  • In my 37-years of service, I have never seen an event quite like this – it’s absolutely inspiring, and I am so proud to be part of it.
  • It’s equally inspiring to see so many friendly faces – tried and tested surface warriors old and new – gathered to discuss, debate, and move out on the business of the world’s greatest Surface Force.
  • To be sure, people like me can stand up here and pontificate all day and not move the needle an inch – but where the rubber meets the road is right here with each and every one of you.  It is you who turn Commander’s Intent into reality through innovative thinking, targeted action, and ruthless execution.
  • So thank you again for being here - I know that your OPTEMPO is demanding and your schedules are tight – but what we are doing here and now, the ideas we will present, and the action items we will generate will serve to guide the Surface Force over the next year and into the future.
  • With that, I’d like to start this thing off the way I ended it last year – my view of the Surface Force.
  • What do you see here?
  • I’ll tell you what I see…
  • The Surface Force and its lethality, its sustainability, its reach – the backbone and the teeth of a maritime force that brings options, creates opportunities, and establishes Sea Control at a time and place of its choosing.
  • It gives our Joint Force Commanders powerful maneuver and strike options to leverage for operational and strategic gain.  And when employed as part of a naval team along with joint and allied partners – it decisively delivers.
    • No adversary in their right mind wants to confront our surface fleet.
  • Despite what we may read in the media about our adversary’s Navies or attempts to build some asymmetric gadget, or even the internal challenges we face with uncertain budgets, manning levels, or the challenges and pace of modernization – I can guarantee everyone listening today:
    • Our surface warriors are feared; they are absolutely ready to take the fight to the enemy; and are an integrated part of a strong Navy that owns the maritime environment from the seabed to space - hands down, no exception.
  • Our surface forces are, and will, remain the critical contributor to our responsibility as a Navy to establish sea control when required, project power globally to deter, and to ensure we are always ready to win maritime conflicts on terms favorable to the United States.
  • Why do I continue to say this? It’s because of the pride, determination, and commitment of our warfighters – Sailor, Marine, and Civilian alike. Our one unparalleled area of overmatch.  And it’s because this overmatch is built on the extraordinary combination of leadership, mastery, toughness, capabilities, and training that transforms our exquisite multi-mission ships into an unprecedented combat force – period, dot, end transmission.
  • But I don’t need to explain that to you – you know it, you live it – you all see it every day at sea, in trainers, during exercises, and most important, at the tip of the spear – right in the face of our peer competitors.
  • Without question, when our Surface Forces pass the final marker buoys and make way for international waters, they are doing so in one of the most dangerous maritime environments in history.  The notion of ‘routine operations’ is a fleeting memory.
  • Over the last decade, we have watched maritime traffic increase 100 fold – from merchants to competitors, offshore oil rigs, cable layers and windmills, fisherman and maritime militia.
  • The sea has once again emerged a primary focal point for peer competition – and the stakes have never been higher.  We sail at a time where the threat of miscalculation and escalation is real, and it is palpable.
  • I can tell you with absolute certainty, that no matter the scenario, our Surface Force will prevail because of one constant that our competitors can’t steal, can’t mimic, can’t recreate – the Sailors, Marines, and Coastguardsmen that man the rails.  That is where they live – that is where they thrive –and that is where we win decisively.
  • We thrive in this arena because of true warfighters like SWOBOSS Roy Kitchener.  His message to you yesterday was on target – GET READY.
  • The groundwork laid this past year to seize and maintain the competitive edge of the Surface Force, combined with his vision for sharpening it for the future, is the exact vision and mindset needed to achieve the next level of maritime dominance.
  • As you heard Roy describe – ‘getting ready’ does not mean waiting until everything aligns perfectly…we must act now…and that is the ground truth behind ‘Get Real, Get Better.’
  • At every level, and every echelon, from the deckplate to the flag bridge, we must foster a culture of continuous learning and improvement – that starts with trust and transparency – embracing the red, taking direct action within our scope of authority and responsibility, and elevating barriers that cannot be overcome through our action alone.
  • To achieve that we have to engrain within ourselves and our teams the principle of critical self-assessment along with the ideal of ownership.
  • Only through the empowerment of our people will we achieve the level of innovation, learning, and problem solving that accelerates our warfighting advantage at pace.
  • You’ll hear time-and-time again from our leaders across the Navy, from CNO and VCNO, to SWOBOSS, to Brendan McLane and Fred Pyle, the importance of ‘Get Real, Get Better’ and why it is crucial that we get our heads right.
  • They have worked tirelessly to chart a clear course for us to attack the challenges we face across the spectrum of operations alongside our other joint force services, partners, and allies.
  • That is how together we will resolve barriers like sparing, obsolescence, at-sea manning gaps, and on-time maintenance completion as we march steadily and persistently toward attaining our North Star objectives.
  • But let me be perfectly clear – even with the challenges that lay ahead – the United States Surface Navy remains the premier, sea-going fighting force – no question.  Nothing else comes close.
  • With this in mind, the logical question is, ‘How do we take the Surface Force to the next level?’  The next level of readiness, of interoperability, of fungibility, and of course, the next level of lethality?
  • Now, unpacking that, we can rapidly chase ‘Alice down the rabbit hole.’ So, I’ll pose you a different question.
    • What do you think of when you see this? Go ahead, shout it out…
  • What I usually hear from my Surface brethren are things like: Carrier Strike Group, Shotgun, Plane Guard, Air and Missile Defense, Sea Combatant Commander, Screen Kilo, Ring of Steel, Protect the Carrier…
  • So what you are telling me is, you are here to protect the Carrier, protect yourself?  That sounds like a primarily defensive mission set. Right? Is that It? God, I hope not! 
  • Where’s the dagger in the teeth of that? That’s not reflective of what I said earlier or the image of an Arleigh Burke on the horizon.
  • Is ‘defense’ an important part of your mission?  Certainly. But let’s get this straight – the primary purpose of our surface combatants is offense - to deliver ruthless firepower on time, on target, and with devastating effect.
  • That fire power includes Missiles, Torpedoes, Marines, LCACs, and Aircraft…anything that puts warheads downrange or shooters in position to deliver violence.
  • Because of that, I firmly believe that the surface Navy is not only an indispensable component in our integrated deterrence strategy, but the essential element to offensive maneuver and strike in any major power conflict.
  • As the late Navy tactician Captain Wayne Hughes and Rear Admiral Bob Girrier postulated in Fleet Tactics and Naval Operations, “Attack effectively first should be considered the very essence of tactical action for success in naval combat.”  I couldn’t agree more.
  • Our current capabilities and at sea training are certainly robust; however, we can’t rest on our laurels thinking we have mastered every aspect of maritime warfare and allow ourselves to believe we are invulnerable to the threats we face.
  • Our ships must be materially ready, and our crews must mentally ready to deter, defend, detect and engage hostile action, with prejudice, at a moment’s notice.
  • Having an unwavering defense-in-depth posture in the dynamic security environment we operate in is a constant, it’s known, it’s a given – but that in and of itself is only the baseline for hedging attrition.
  • Commanders and crews cannot take a passive stance, waiting for higher echelon direction – they must be ready to act, and act swiftly balancing mission and risk to achieve the objective.
  • Those real-time, knife-edge decisions are often what determine victory and defeat – whether we strike, or take the hit ourselves.
  • Commanders need to get comfortable with effectively diffusing that tension between authority and action. We do that through clear Commander’s Intent, logical C2, sound doctrine, practiced tactics, acceptable risk, and above all, an unwavering adherence to the tenets of mission command.
  • I know what you are thinking – ‘yea, yea, we hear this all the time…‘mission command’…be ready…train the way you fight…
  • So why am I taking the time to beat the proverbial dead horse? You need look no further than the sinking of the Black Sea Russian flagship and missile cruiser, MOSKVA, in April last year.
  • The Russians are no slouches when it comes to their prowess at sea.  Like us, they have a proud naval tradition with the kit to back it up – I would venture to say there are fair amount of similarities when it comes to the capabilities, and challenges, we face in providing and maintaining a Navy.
  • So here you have an arguably robust naval warship designed and equipped with advanced long-range air defense systems – to include multi-purpose radars and both electronic and kinetic countermeasures – that was reportedly struck by two Ukrainian Neptune missiles and ended up on the bottom of the sea.
  • Playing ‘Monday night quarterback’ poses more questions than answers. What in the world went wrong? How could this happen? Were the radars down? Were the damage control teams trained and ready?
  • This ship and crew were presumably not sailing under peacetime orders – nor would I presume to say they were in a peacetime posture.
  • So I have to ask – where was their head at? What were they expecting? Were they ready for a fight?  What can be said about their toughness and grit after taking a hit?
  • The best thing I can glean from this scenario is ‘not ready’ – on all counts.
  • They simply were not ready, nor expecting, the possibility of this outcome – and they paid for it in a flooded ship; they paid for it in lost capability; but worse, they paid for it in Sailors.
  • I’ll let that sink in for a second. No matter what went wrong that day for the crew of MOSKVA, they paid for it in Sailors’ lives.
  • We are not impervious to this type of hostile action – in words of our aviator brethren, the ‘Swiss cheese model’ can always find a way to align on the unwary.
  • One can find numerous examples of this in recent events – aggressive and unprofessional maneuvering by competitors in the Mediterranean, the Strait of Hormuz, the South China Sea; unannounced missile tests across the Sea of Japan – even blue-on-blue near mishaps close to home.
  • To Get Ready - we must be purposefully postured and poised to maneuver offensively in order to defend our ship and our fleet, and to detect and engage our adversaries first.
  • To really illustrate what I am getting at - I’d like you to consider a hypothetical situation that could really take place at any time.
  • So let’s set the stage a bit and assume that the position and construct of U-S and allied units matches our current force posture – that is – we have a few Carrier Strike Groups and ARGs spread out between the geographic combatant commanders, some F-D-N-F assets, and the standard units in the local waters spooling up through basic and advanced phases for their upcoming deployments.
  • Additionally, there’s been turmoil over the last year – a strategic competitor has engaged in a protracted ground war on a neighboring country.
  • Now, it goes without saying that their aggressive actions have created a fair amount of havoc and unrest in the region. And while all eyes are closely monitoring and assessing the situation to ensure it remains localized, the U-S and allied nations flow forces to the region to help assure these actions remain localized and deter expansion of hostilities.
  • To be sure, we are not the only ones watching this situation. In neighboring regions, other competitors are laser focused on our response mechanisms and policy actions across the ‘MIDFIELD.’  Some are even testing the waters to see if they can leverage the ongoing events as windows of opportunity to their advantage.
  • Knowing this, our nation as well as our partners and allies have maintained continuous naval operations in those key regions to deter such actions through presence, teamwork, power projection, and day-to-day readiness.
  • Fast forward a bit - imagine during a routine transit operation in this ‘other’ region, a U.S. Aircraft Carrier experiences a catastrophic mishap on the flight deck rendering it non-mission capable – compounding the situation further, there are also severe storms and typhoon warnings in the area.
  • Seizing the opportunity presented – the world focused on another region and the reduction of force due to the mishap – an authoritarian regime rapidly denounces the presence of the Carrier Strike Group and the danger it poses to safety and security in the region.
  • Quickly they flow ‘aide’ to neighboring states for what they claim is humanitarian assistance. Once in place they spare no time replacing political figures with ones sympathetic to their cause.
  • As world leadership engages and partner states reposition forces to de-escalate the new situation and restore balance, the initial authoritarian aggressor sees its opportunity to expand their front and immediately begins striking allied targets in neighboring states.
  • U-S and allied nations are rapidly drawn into a multi-region, multi-domain scenario that is rapidly devolving.
  • While surging naval forces to both regions, each of the regimes attempt to secure the sea and air space surrounding the conflict zones – the FDNF forces present rapidly become cut-off from immediate support and must take direct action to deny the enemy control of the sea.
  • Seizing the initiative, the Commanders in the arena quickly maneuver their ships to find, fix, and engage targets from inside and outside the enemy weapons engagement zone, imposing heavy costs on the adversaries.
  • As the combined power of allied strike groups close on the regions, enemy ships cannot keep up with the tempo and breadth of the offensive vectors presented.
  • As the surviving enemy ships relocate to within the protective umbrella of their homeland defenses, the threat of continued escalation and the loss of several advanced units cause the regimes to formally withdraw.
  • In other words, they swiftly realize that the relentless ability of the American surface Navy to disperse, conceal, reveal, and strike with overwhelming effect at our timing and tempo – and once engaged won’t let up – is devastating to their ability to command, control, maneuver, and counter engage. They simply can’t keep up.
  • The purpose of this vignette is to detail the reality of what events leading up to a future war could look like, and the real challenges it poses.
  • One that is multi-region, perhaps global, certainly comprised of multi-domain and multi-vector warfare – where speed, precision, timing, and consequence are paramount – and surface forces will be required to act, whether operating as part of a Carrier Strike Group, an Expeditionary Strike Group, or a Surface Action Group, to secure and maintain control of the sea.
  • Having said all that, this is what I want you to take away – I said it before and I’m going to continue to drive it home:
    • The Surface Force – its lethality, its sustainability, its reach – is the backbone and the teeth of a maritime force that brings options, creates opportunities, projects visible power, and establishes Sea Control at a time and place of its choosing.
    • It gives Joint Force Commanders powerful maneuver and lethal options to exploit for operational and strategic gain.  And when employed as part of a naval team along with joint and allied partners – it is creates a winning and decisive advantage.
  • As we project forward and prepare for future competition and the challenges we face internal to the Navy, I want to give you my perspective as a Fleet Commander of what success looks like and how we will continue to dominate at sea.
  • Our imperative across the Forge and the Fleet is to field a hard hitting, resilient, agile fighting force that is consistently ready in peacetime, and deadly in combat.
  • My vision and associated strategy, as well as what I persistently recommend to the CNO, is we be ready to fight with the Navy we own and operate today.
  • Therefore, we must field a surface Navy that is fully manned with all magazine tubes fully armed with the right ordnance, and with supply lockers filed with the right parts.  This is the bare minimum standard we owe our supported Combatant Commanders and the Secretary of Defense.  We have to be able to flow all we have to the point of need and deliver the iron required to win.
  • Due to advancements in technology over the last few decades, specifically the ever expanding effective range, precision, and speed of weapons systems, our ships and crews are more vulnerable to attack than ever before. This invariably has required us to change the way we approach maritime warfare.
  • The ground truth when it comes to combat at-sea - attrition rules the day.
  • Both offensively and defensively, the primary objective is to strike first, strike fast, and strike hard to remove pieces from the board.
  • Moreover, achieving a mission kill in today’s fight and supporting schemes of maneuver can generally be just as effective, and takes much less to accomplish, than the complete destruction of a surface combatant.
  • To achieve our warfare objectives, with consideration to overall survivability and lethality, we have been testing and employing the concepts of Distributed Maritime Operations and Littoral Operations in a Contested Environment to include Expeditionary Advanced Base Operations.
  • This fleet-centric approach of pairing distributed forces with netted sensors to detect, track, and engage targets enables the dynamic maneuver required to seize momentary advantage and strike with purposeful and synchronized effect within the objective’s battlespace.
  • Large Scale Exercise ’21 stress tested these concepts and showcased the enormous value of Live, Virtual, and Constructive training – this summer in LSE ’23, we will once again put our concepts to the test, pushing our limits, and further sharpen the advantages it provides across the integrated maritime team at the global scale.
  • On the opposite side of the attrition coin is recognizing that in any likely scenario, we will take hits.  Reminiscent to at-sea battles in World War II, the fate of our surface ships will ultimately rely upon the knowledge, skill, courage, and determination of our Sailors to conduct timely damage repair, sustain operations, and get the ship back into the fight.
  • To prepare for this inevitability, first and foremost, it is essential that the surface force achieve and sustain the required baseline manning requirements.
  • We must move beyond our current practice of fit and fill parameters and ‘critical NECs’ to a model that ensures our surface combatants have the manpower needed to man a three-section watchbill and continuous battle-stations when required.  Once that right mix and number are determined and set – man it to 100 percent. 
  • Further, those Sailors must be trained and equipped to extract every ounce of technological capability out of their combat systems.  They must be ready to conduct damage repair and fix emergent issues in permissive and non-permissive environments.
  • To bend the curve, the Navy has invested heavily in Ready Relevant Learning and Future of Sailor Maintenance – initiatives that I oversee and track relentlessly.
  • Both of these programs are central to getting our Sailors back to a position of mastery so they can operate and maintain their systems with the required competency and confidence.
  • Next, we must forge a combination of the right capabilities with the right quantities. It should be unimaginable that any naval asset, deployed or ready to surge, does not have their magazines fully loaded.
    • I liken it to the scene in the movie ‘Wayne’s World’ – in which we have to call an ordinance timeout, run up to Yorktown and then announce ‘Game-On!’
    • Bottom Line: Our ships are the primary magazines.
  • Further, during an engagement, it is highly likely we will go Winchester – so our ordnance locations need to be distributed, plentiful, and built with the expeditionary capability to rapidly fill our ships and return to the fight.
  • Another critical area that needs to be on-time – our shipyard availabilities.  36 month availabilities are now taking, on average, over 45 months.  This is placing a large and unsustainable strain on our OFRP, our operational availability, and our forward presence options.
  • We must get after this to ensure Fleet Commanders are able to sustainably and predictably flow forces to combatant commanders.  Our ships must get in and out of maintenance on time – this is an all hands effort – we must find efficiencies to restore the readiness and availability of our Fleet to both train and deploy. 
  • We are working on many lines of effort to solve this, but for me, this requires four things: exquisite planning, early material procurement, more dry-docks, and more effective project execution that treats depot maintenance like a no-fail mission.
  • Likewise, we must get out in front of the persistent challenge and uncertainty that our current ship decommissioning process presents the force.
  • Think about serving on a ship in which the clear decommissioning date is uncertain or unknown, but being speculated on like a commodity.  This type of waterfront purgatory is horrible for those crews.  My team is working hard with Vice Admiral ‘Satan’ Conn to develop an objective, criteria based Decom Plan that all parties from the Hill to the Fleet can agree upon.
  • A stable plan that fulfills national security requirements by extracting and fully leveraging the affordable combat usefulness, but also, with confidence, puts ships to bed when they have surpassed their ability to be properly maintained, sustained, and modernized.
  • We have to remove the uncertainty – our back and forth methodology affects shipyard load, dry-dock capacity, material availability – but, most of all, it is has a crushing effect on the Sailors onboard who are stuck in limbo – left feeling like they’re not part of the operational Navy team.
  • Last, to capitalize on our Navy’s greatest strength – its ability to distribute and concentrate lethal effects at our timing and tempo – our command and control must be agile and mission based so it can readily adapt to the combinations of aggregation and dispersion that our doctrine requires, and be simplified to improve unity of effort and clear accountability.
  • With dispersal and concentration in mind, Fleet Commanders and Combatant Commanders require command elements that can seamlessly integrate into the battlespace, into existing communications and data networks, and into existing battle rhythms without skipping a beat.
  • This requires our surface combatants to be much more plug and play inherently.  Our ships should not have to work up together to fight effectively together.
  • From my vantage point, the way we accomplish this is by redesigning the core Carrier Strike Group.  In this model, the core Carrier Strike Group would be built on the CVN, an Air and Missile Defense ship, and an Oiler with these units matriculating through the core OFRP based on the CVN’s required phases.
  • By removing the requirement that ties all supporting surface ships to the OFRP phase lengths of the CVN, I optimize each surface ship based on a more tailored set of requirements that allows me, in concept, to improve the readiness and availability of our surface Navy to deploy and respond. 
  • Each surface ship would be trained and certified on their pre-determined set of warfare area competencies beyond basic operations, enabling them to deploy independently and plug into a Strike Group seamlessly at the point of need.
  • In conflict, this will be absolutely necessary.  So, why aren’t we building our force to mirror that today – especially given the distributed and dispersed nature of strike group operations we currently see in practice in each theater already?
  • The beauty of this redesigned strike group concept is that it becomes an interchangeable force that can fungibly integrate into a myriad of environments for multiple battlespace commanders across AORs worldwide.
  • This and many other problems and challenges, reduce the ‘O” in our OFRP, are being examined by a cross-functional team led by my Fleet Readiness Officer.
  • Across the Navy, we are doing the hard work necessary to get after our most pressing problems.  I see it every day from my seat at Fleet Forces.  I get to witness firsthand the amazing work going on from the unit level to the Pentagon to take our surface force to the next level and beyond.
  • Take for example, the hard charging work coming out of SMWDC and the WTIs under the leadership of Rear Admiral Chris Alexander.  Chris is leading the way on offensive surface warfare and high-end combat operations.  Eye-watering work by his junior officer experts.  In fact, last September, we joined teams with NAWDC and for the first time conducted a highly successful joint Surface WARCOM and Air WARCOM out in Fallon.
  • This direct effort was the first of many steps in holistically expanding the envelope of naval warfighting concepts for the future.  By tearing down the silos that have historically separated our communities, we are able to realize and leverage the advantages provided by our networked systems when integrated into the full spectrum, multi-domain concepts of distributed maritime operations. 
  • Those WTIs are breathing new thought and new life into TTPs, Fleet Battle Problems, and COMPTUEX – and, when coupled with new trainers and simulators linked within the LVC environment, units can readily practice close-in navigation training, maneuver, and tactics while validating new concepts.
  • Across the board, we are getting after it with passion, focus, and a culture of crushing resistance to change.
  • In places like the ‘Forge,’ the Surface Force Combat System Software Factory, we are investing in operational architectures like the Integrated Combat System – an internal, innovative approach to increase the proliferation and delivery of combat systems capabilities.
  • Put simply – we will no longer have to wait the usual six to eight years for combat systems upgrades – our internal systems engineers will design and deliver an agile combat systems architecture that enables sensor and weapon kill web upgrades across the force at pace.
  • We are also getting after ship maintenance and Sailor Quality of Service – take for example CAPT Judd Krier and his team on IWO JIMA.
  • They are absolutely owning maintenance as a mission.  Their team is striking the right balance of effort between Sailor readiness and mission readiness through things like setting up a private screening of Top Gun: Maverick in a local theater, mental health maintenance days, recognition of Core Value Champions, and more. Absolutely killing it during the toughest environment we face - the shipyard.
  • I am proud of our Navy for spring boarding off our Get Real, Get Better Campaign with innovation and critical thinking at every echelon to do what it takes to achieve new levels of readiness, mastery, and lethality.
 
 
  • As we move out, we will continue to lean in, learn, innovate, and adapt so that we will are ready to win decisively in every encounter.
  • In shaping our own battlespace, remember that we are never victims – we approach problems from a solution centric position of self-sufficiency, a culture of critical self-assessment, of problem resolution, and a warrior’s ethos built on grit, tenacity, and innovation.
  • In everything we do, we must prepare ourselves, prepare our ships, and prepare our crews for war both mentally and physically, as well as technically and tactically – like SWOBOSS said, “Get Ready.”
  • I’m really excited by what I see out on the waterfront every day and by what I see coming down the line.
  • The surface Navy is rightly forged as the center hub of the future fight because the Fleet and the Joint Force need what only you can provide. A fast, agile, and resilient combination of warships ready to maneuver offensively, strike first, and strike hard.
  • I challenge all of you to embrace the tenants of Commander’s Intent and Mission Command fully – live it, breathe it, drive it.
  • Develop yourselves and your teams’ ability to assess, innovate, and execute – take risks, accept failure, keep learning. And keep fostering the warriors’ ethos – that ‘knife in the teeth’ toughness that has been bred in our American Sailors for generations.
  • As I bring my remarks to an end, I’ll finish the way I started.
    • No adversary in their right mind wants to confront our surface fleet.
    • No adversary comes close to the awe inspiring might of a U-S Surface Combatant.
    • Our surface warriors are feared.
    • The maritime environment is our domain.
    • We set the conditions for victory.
  • I look forward to your questions and getting after it - to not only Get Ready, but to Be Ready!
  • Thank you.

MODERATOR:

Actually, it's two separate questions, but it concerns the NAVSEA building of the future force. And the question is, the first part is, do you foresee the Iron Dome SAM system being put on frigates, Zumwalt class, LCS’, LAW’s, amphibs now that the Marines have the Iron Dome in their inventory?

 

ADM. CAUDLE:

That's a question I don't feel like I can really answer. I'm not sure about that. I don't want it to go unanswered. So I don't know. Roy, do you want to take that on? It’s something that just quite frankly, I just can't answer. So that's rare in my big mouth. 

 

MODERATOR:

Okay, maybe I shouldn't give you the second part that from the other person.

Could you please comment on smart guided programmable rounds, such as dark 76 millimeter Alamo and laser guided rockets for surface ships, will smart guide and extended range rounds be brought and work their way into naval gunfire and warships? 

 

ADM. CAUDLE:

I mean, again, conceptually, who doesn't want smart rounds? So I would say that all those types of questions that kind of fall into that are all things that we do, of course, through experimentation, demonstration, business case analysis We weigh the pros and cons as we bring those type of new technologies and lethality packages to bear. So whether or not there's a decision to put those on is really something I can't address. But in concept, yes, of course, I want something that can do all the things you just read off.

 

MODERATOR:

The second question, regarding yesterday, Admiral Cooper was talking about AI and unmanned systems. And in my view, Fifth Fleet has become a testbed for these processes. We'd like to get your perspective and how do you see it being employed within the entire portfolio of the Navy? 

 

ADM. CAUDLE:

Yeah, okay. Yeah, that's a good question. I just, I just had the opportunity to spend a week at MIT up there with an Air Force sponsor course, and some of the room may have gone to it as well. It's a senior level AI and machine learning (ML) course and it's not lost on anyone and I think across the Navy and across the department of defense, that artificial intelligence and machine learning is, and this is a little arguable, but it will probably transform itself, then what we call a general purpose technology –GPT. There's been some number, and this is again an article thing, like 24 of these in the history of man, like language is a GPT, steam engine, electricity. And so AI ML has the potential to do that. And these things, they transform the way we do things that are at a global scale. And that's what makes it kind of a definition of GPT-general purpose technology. Do I believe that AI ML is one of those, I tend to, I do think that. So we owe it to the Navy and to the defense of our country to embrace artificial intelligence, big data analytics, and machine learning algorithms, and embrace that in a way that we bring that to bear in systems where it will actually apply and work. So there's a couple of concerns here, when sometimes I get the notion that when I don't want to spend money on something, and I don't want to do something really hard where it requires a physical thing. Then what we'll try to do is say that sounds like that would be great for AI ML. Well, nothing could be further from the truth. There is a process to determine something that actually artificial intelligence, big data and machine learning fits well. There are places where that really does work very well. In the undersea, we are seeing that manifests itself in areas where your data rich and analyst poor, so that you can go through vast amounts of data out there, wider search capabilities, and actually help the operator make decisions. In the surface, I think that notion is extended in maritime awareness. So in maritime awareness, capabilities, ISR layers, if you will- surface all the way up- where you're getting a lot of information, and not necessarily all the people to actually go and process, that I certainly think AI ML has a place. I think Brad Cooper and Fifth Fleet is doing some great work there. The other place, I see where that would do very well, just right off the cuff is in South America. South America struggles with a lot of encroachment in their EEZ zones. They have small navies and I think some of those technologies that we are testing out in Task Force 59 and Fifth Fleet could report directly to Fourth Fleet and help some of these smaller navies give them more maritime domain awareness and give them the ability to then go deploy their small force in prosecution mode versus search mode. So instantiations like that, I think it is incredibly important. Mine warfare, I think is a place where it would work very well. Again, I need to search large bodies of water, I have a way to distinguish between mine and unmined waters through big data and big data analytics. I think that's a place. So I'm all for it. They can't substitute for what I just gave a pretty lengthy talk about, is the actual combatants being in the arena and doing the hard thing. But there are places where it definitely is a force multiplier and we can enable some of those technologies to do some of the work that we just can't do at scale today.

 

MODERATOR:

So the next question concerns the public shipyards, it says, given the backlog and capacity challenges for public shipyards is there a building argument for opening a fifth?

 

ADM. CAUDLE:

Yes, of course. I mean, I need 6. I mean, I need enough capacity in our shipyards to drive down the backlog to zero. You know, we get a lot of talk up here and you just heard it again, from the two Congressmen, who I'm good friends with and think the world of, talk about shipbuilding accounts, shipbuilding accounts. I can today, if I had the backlog chipped down, have a more effective larger fleet today. So, you know, again, I've got a pretty good size Navy, too much of it's being held in abeyance in our yards. And so whatever the solution set is, we've got to knock down thinking that I've got to just do this with a limited set of options for public yards. You know, when I came in the Navy, I think I want to say, I will know if I get this number, right? We have like eight, had like eight yards. Okay, there's Mare Island at Charleston and other places doing work. This is all nuclear ship, nuclear yards. And we made the decision to go to four when we did that we went to the bone there. We went to the place where that was exactly optimized to do exactly what was needed as if we were never going to have a problem, take any battle damage, do emergent repairs, and things like sequestration come along, and things like COVID come along. So it has no room to have any ability to expand to compensate when I have something that derails us a bit. So you know, that's a problem. And because of that, you get this compounding effect, and we just continue to stack ships up and not get them back into the fight. So again, yes, we need to be thinking about what we do to increase our capability. Now one of the ways we're doing that is getting help from the private Yards. Okay, I now we've got availabilities going on with HII. And we've got availabilities going on at electric boat and General dynamics. So I think those partnerships are essential as well, to help me get chip away at this backlog. Like anything, private organizations like in this room, have to have something presented to them, that the risk model financially for their company and shareholders make sense that they invest in the workforce, the space, the capitalization, tooling, and all the training necessary to do ship maintenance, or they're just not going to be able to do it. So if I'm going to partner with them, we got to come in and partner with them. So I think everything has to be on the table here. I really do.

 

MODERATOR:

Very good. This question was brought up with the Congressman before, and it concerns the Ukraine, your perspective on it, and how we're going to be able to balance our readiness versus the demand signal that's coming in from the Ukraine and the issues we've had with the supply chain in the past, whether it be from COVID or from the stress being put on it now. Now as a result of our push forward. 

 

ADM. CAUDLE:

Well, I thought the answers that were given by Congressmen Wittman and Courtney were good. I would agree with everything they said, I guess where I would depart a little bit is I'm not as forgiving of the defense industrial base. I'm just not. Okay. So look at me, I am not forgiving the fact you're not delivering the ordnance we need. Okay?  I'm just not. All this stuff about COVID this, parts, you know, supply chain this, so I just don't really care. I just don't really care. I mean, we all got a tough job. I need SM-6’s delivered on time. I need more Mark 48 torpedoes delivered on time. Okay, we're talking about warfighting, national security, and going against a competitor here and a potential adversary that is like nothing we've ever seen. And we can't dilly dallying around with these deliveries. Okay, this is big money, big accounts. I don't see good accountability, and I don't see good return on investment from the government side. I really don't. And so, you know, if you want to take me in a room and show me you know, your sob story, I'll be happy to hear it. But at the end of the day I want the magazines filled. Okay, I want the ships tubes filled. I don't want to have to bring a Strike Group back so I can rob Peter to pay Paul so the next one can go. And then when I want to help a country out like Ukraine, I'm not sitting talking about, you know what it’s doing to me, I'm talking about, of course, we're going to help a country deliver the stuff we need, so they can win that conflict against Russia and

 it's not going to destroy and put me back into the dark ages. So this is all tied about delivery and performance. I could have given the whole pitch I gave with the shipyard and put that right over on the ordnance, its completely unsatisfying from the Fleet Commander. It’s just not hitting the mark. And so again, I’m willing to partner. If there's something we need to do better, I'm happy, I got my team looking at contracting strategies so I get some more transparency, a little more accountability, a little bit more of a way to get insight and some of the things that Congressman Wittman was talking about. So if there's a thing you need being built by another country, and I can't get the thing, I need to have transparency on that. I told Jim Kilby, sitting beside him when he said that, give me the top five, what are they, you know, off the cuff? You know, I can't get whatever, let me know what it is. So I just think, we're not just on pace with this. So I'm very frustrated as you can tell by what I've said, because it's so essential to winning. And in my position, and for the people in the room in uniform that's all that matters. And I can't do that without the ordnance. And it's just, that's what we do. That's how we actually win. Okay, there's no talking point other than that, 

 

MODERATOR:

Very good. So the question concerns, training, and then it goes about how can we incorporate more training with NATO and coalition partners, before we put forces downrange? And how do you see that playing out over the century? 

 

ADM. CAUDLE:

That's a super question I'm actually very proud of what we're doing in that area. I mean, so let me just back up a little bit. One of the things we did right out the gate was in the creation of U.S. Second Fleet, is made him a Joint Force Command Headquarters, JFC Norfolk. So inherently, a person who works for me is also commander that works directly for General Cavoli, European Commander and SACEUR. And so that gives a connection that right here in Norfolk, I've got a commander in a command structure that is part of NATO. So it's not like working with NATO, we are NATO. Sometimes we talk about the United States and we work with NATO, you know, we've got to remember we're in NATO. So we're working with ourselves. And so that's structurally a very strong lash up. And so when you got like an Adm. Munsch, JFC Naples, and Sixth Fleet with Tom Ishee. There, we cannot have a more symbiotic state of play right now. And some may have read some articles that have come out recently about the One Atlantic concept. And what that is, is a way that we're working to flow seamlessly, forces across that UCP line, your unified command plan line, it sits right in the middle of the Atlantic, between Second Fleet and Sixth Fleet between NORTHCOM and EUCOM. And just take that line out of play, that is unprecedented work that we do in that area. And so we just did that with the Gerald R. Ford’s first deployment, where we chopped that over from my authority to Stewart Munsch, where he did a 12 nation, major exercise in the European theater and tactical command, and we've done it with several submarines, or we just flow that right across that line and just change commander. So that's all going well. The last thing I will say is we have a very healthy demand signal from our NATO partners to be involved in our strike groups. And so they want to work up with us, they actually bring the ships over, they matriculate through the strike group process, and then deploy in standard command of our strike groups. And I think that's very healthy as well. So I think we're in a good place for the NATO partnership.

 

MODERATOR:

So Admiral Kitchener mentioned yesterday the North Star being the 75 surface combatants mission capable out there. And the question basically is I would like to get your perspective on how you think that's going, how you seen working? 

 

ADM. CAUDLE:

Yes, anytime you throw a number out, you take a risk Roy. Okay.

So you know, there's an education campaign, it's got to underwrite what Adm. Kitchener is talking about. And so what he's doing is is groundbreaking here. Okay? And everybody in the room has got to really support this initiative and have an understanding of it. And that includes the press. That includes our defense industrial base, congressional partners and everything else. And what I'm talking about here is when he's talking about 75 ships, that he can quickly deliver, and short a few small things, and get it to the point of need. That's what we're talking about. To do that doesn't mean that I require like 76 ships in my fleet. You know, to make the 75. So lets make sure we're very clear on the definitions of what he's talking about mission capable. Okay? I've worked with him a lot on this initiative in our in our performance to plan he's on target on it. It's a good number. It's a number that makes a good Northstar. And at the end of the day, we have confidence for the first time that there's a number of ships that are being tracked, and it's such an exquisite level, that it's not some DRRS report where you don't know what's going on with that. This is actual knowledge of the ships capability, where it stands in ordinance, people, readiness and the ability to get underway from a training and certification perspective, to get to the point of need to actually conduct high-end warfare in combat. I am 100% behind it, I think it's a great number. I couldn't be more proud of Surface Navy for finally developing something that has real teeth in a way we're tracking what you can actually respond when you need to, to the needs in our forward commands so I applaud that effort.

 

MODERATOR:

Right. Unfortunately, We have just run out of time. But I'd like to give you some closing time for some closing remarks.

 

ADM. CAUDLE:

Well, first, hopefully, my team took a note on that first question that like stiffened me. Whoever asked that will get you an answer to it. Okay, so don't leave that closed out. 

 

The second I find I get this invite a few months out before the event, I'm always a yes right away because I cannot be more proud to sit and talk to you folks. I spent a little more time today at the podium because I want you to really hear from the Fleet commander, about where my head is, where I think the problems are, how much I applaud the Surface Navy, how much we need a surface Navy. There's articles out there that just I just can't believe some of the things I read some time just how uninformed these things are about what can be brought to bear with our Surface Navy. Okay? You ask any numbered fleet commander, and they are the experts in employing this force about what they do every single day, at the tip of the spear with their surface force. It is the most incredible force there is, nothing can do the multi-mission things even close and demonstrate that capability to our adversaries. So it's indispensable. And if you hear anything, I'm talking about the way I want to actually make them even more capable, more forward, get them in the game even more, from offense, to how they go through their OFRP it's all because how much I appreciate what you do. So again, thanks for letting me come and speak and I appreciate it. I look forward to being here next year.

 


 
 
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